Record number of households on food stamps

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The number of families on food stamps reached a new record in March, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That's not surprising news to volunteers at the Mandarin Food Bank, which is now offering help with food stamps.

"It seems like every month it gets a little bit more and little bit more," said Bonnie McNulty, co-director of the food bank.

The numbers released by the USDA on Friday show 23,116,441 households were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in March, each receiving an average monthly benefit of $274.30. The total number of people who receive food stamps is at 47,727,052.

"Right now the changes we're seeing is a lot of the people who are receiving unemployment no longer receive it, and so now they're applying for food stamps," McNulty said. "So that is increasing our numbers."

McNulty says there can be misconceptions to how much food stamps actually help, and it's also a lot more difficult to qualify than many think. If you've lost your house but own a valuable car or boat, it's nearly impossible.

"Another thing we're seeing a lot of is people who are living in their cars and on boats and RVs because they've lost their home," McNulty said. "And these are mostly single people and they're having a hard time. They can't get food stamps."

The rising numbers come as the Senate recently passed a bill that will make cuts to the food stamp program by about $400 million a year. The bill now heads to the House so it can take up its own version.